Reviving the Chief

Its finally time.  I can’t put it off any longer.  If I don’t get the suspension rebuilt on the Chief, I doubt she’ll see the road again.  I parked her last a couple months ago and I really just can’t bear to take her out on the road anymore. The front suspension has deteriorated to the point where it shakes and jars you so badly that you can barely keep it on the road.  After 55 years of driving, the bushings have pretty much discintegrated, springs are shot, shocks are worn…pretty much everything that keeps the car off the ground is failing or has failed.  In the words of Mike Sorrentino, “We’ve got a situation”.

Luckily – there are some great Pontiac parts houses.  I called around to California Pontiac Restoration up in Santa Ana and inquired about their kit.  These guys were great when I was replacing the windshields and needed new rubber seals.  They had the right parts and shipped them down to me quick.  However, they were pretty expensive for the suspension kit, so I kept looking.  A quick stop by rockauto.com got me 4 new shocks for about $60!  Gotta love the Rock. (Its the best online auto parts shop out there)

So, I turn to the only place that saved me before when I was doing the brakes on this beast.  The only place I could find drums and pads for a ’56 Pontiac was Kanter Auto Parts, back in New Jersey (I think, maybe NY)?  These guys are usually pretty fairly priced and in some cases are my only option for parts as I try and restore this beast.  So now that I’ve got my tax return back from old Uncle Sam, I’m looking in investing most of it back into the American Economy to get me the Deluxe Front End rebuild kit and some replacement coil springs.  This complete overhaul and a quick alignment should have this bitch back on the road and riding like a cadillac rather than a dump truck.

I’ll keep some updates going out as I proceed with this project, but I’m excited to get the Poncho back on the road for summer!

ROWTOPIA

Thats right – its back again this year!  Floatopia is now ROWTOPIA thanks to San Diego and their insanely ridiculous maritime drinking laws.  No longer is the beach fun, no longer can you drink like a normal, free American, and no longer can you even relax on a damn tube and float in the bay with a beer!  San Diego, which was once home to SDSU – a Top 10 ranked Party School by Playboy Magazine is now outlawing drinking, smoking, and partying on the beaches.  Every year they outlaw something else, and every year the masses find some loophole in the law and organize an event against it.  Since when did it become a crime to get out on the water and have a good time?

Since the PB beach riot during Memorial Day a few years back that led to the alcohol beach ban, its been harder and harder to enjoy the beaches during the summer.  I remember heading down to the beach when we were going to SDSU and burying a few kegs in the sand and having some of the most epic beach parties ever.  Memorial, Labor days, and 4th of July’s where PB was completely packed and parties raged from sunrise to sunset.  Now, we have to be god damn lawyers just to figure out a way to pound a few Natty lights with some sand between our toes.

RowtopiaLast years Floatopia went off without any major incident.  There were cops all over the place, and they had the area pretty well locked down.  Sheriffs, Coast Guard, and Lifeguards patrolled the water from boats to make sure that no one had too much fun.  We took the Calabria out and threw down anchor in the morning for what we thought was going to be a great day of partying and watching the aquatic shenanigans unfold, but the cops made sure that no one was going to have too much fun.  We weren’t allowed to go any closer than what seemed like 500 feet from shore.  We were tied up with our buddy Aaron’s Super Air Nautique, and they came by and made us untie because they were afraid of someone falling in between the boats and drowning.  Then we anchored out of the way by ourselves, and were constantly harassed by the sheriffs because we had the music up too loud.  They claimed that if anything was heard from 50 feet away we would receive a ticket for disturbing the peace.  All-in-all, they do a damn good job to harass everyone just trying to have a good time.  Its a far cry from Labor Day 2008 when we had topless girls on the boat partying over in sail bay and there wasn’t a cop in site.

Well this year, the Floatopia organizers are back with a new idea.  Since the city banned drinking on the beach and now drinking on the water in tubes or inflatable craft, Floatopia has now become ROWTOPIA.  The organizers are recommending that people show up in rowboats or any type of actual boat, where it is legal to be drinking.  However, as a boat owner, I’m well aware that the operators of any boat are subject to the same DUI laws as driving a vehicle on land, so someone will have to be responsible for keeping themselves under .08 (I had to take one for the team on this last year.  But with a $60,000 boat – I’m not looking for any DUI’s!).  I foresee quite a few arrests and DUI incidents this year with drunk college kids who rented paddle boats, and ticket-hungry cops who want them to pay for their ignorance.  I also see some probable cause for them to make tons of arrests because people will be tying these boats up together to form a floating party pad, a-la Copper Canyon in Havasu.Copper Canyon Lake Havasu

Overall, I’m sure it will be a decent event, as even last year didn’t get too crazy.  They’ll keep putting out new restrictions and people will keep figuring out ways around them.  Pretty soon you won’t be able to even look at the beaches in San Diego in case someone gets offended that you glared at them and sues the city.  At some point, we (collective, San Diego residents “we”) need to just stop for a second and say Hey, what the fuck.  Is this shit really necessary?

Check out some articles to see how the news is blowing it out of proportion and further propagating misunderstanding and misinformation…

http://www.10news.com/news/24833524/detail.html

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2011/feb/21/return-floatopia/